Saturday, October 16, 2010

Congressman Issa: Where Are All Those Postal Supervisors?

The response to an article two weeks ago that quoted Rep. Darrell Issa as saying one in seven U.S. Postal Service employees has stirred up an unprecedented amount of reaction.

So far, 57 comments have been made to USPS Has Too Many Supervisors And Too Many Employees, Congressman Says -- a Dead Tree Edition record -- and the response was even greater on other sites that linked to the article. Postalreporter.com, for example, has 204 comments. The head of the postal supervisors union also objected to the California Republican's "trash talk" and challenged his statistics.

"Without doubt, the supervisory ratio within the Postal Service is far, far higher than 1:7," said Louis M. Atkins, president of the National Association of Postal Supervisors. Many comments, though acknowledging that the Postal Service has too many layers of management, also questioned Issa's numbers.

I agree with these folks. After looking at USPS employment statistics (see chart at right from the last annual report), I can't find that many supervisory or managerial employees.

Of the approximately 712,000 employees at the end of last year, more than 90% are in categories like carrier and mail handler that seem clearly to be non-supervisory. Adding the "Postmasters/Installation Heads", "Supervisors/Managers", and all headquarters and area-office employees (even though some are non-supervisory) yields abou t 65,000 -- only 1 in 11 USPS employees.

Perhaps Issa excluded non-career employees from his count. But, assuming he recognizes that part-timers and temps are an efficient way to handle fluctuating workloads, that wouldn't make sense. And, besides, that would only change the ratio to about 1 in 10.

Some commenters wondered whether Issa was including 204Bs (substitute supervisors), but they can hardly be called true supervisors.

And one commenter had an insightful response to Issa: "In fairness, the '1 of 7' that Representative Issa refers to also includes low-level Postmasters at thousands of small post offices in small communities throughout the nation. Many of these Postmasters are the only employee in their office, or have just a few clerks or rural carriers. Their salary is less than that of a city letter carrier. Incidentally, many of these same small offices are ones that Congress prevents USPS from closing!"

Other highlights from the comments:
  • "There are far too many managers. I am a manager and I've seen it from both sides. But it is not so much local management as it is people that don't even see the mail, touch the mail or have been inside a post office WORKING for decades and have no clue what is going on. Some district jobs are an all day cake party,"
  • "I've been in offices where I was the only one supervising 50+ employees."
  • "If the USPS restricted access to Facebook and personal email accounts, our office could eliminate two supervisors."
  • "There are 35 routes and 6 clerks in my office yet we have 5 custodians [not techs] to pick up empty trays and trash and mow the lawn. Ridiculous."
  • "You all can come work at a REC where the ration is 1:200...and you will never see one of your employees if you don't want to."

27 comments:

M. I. Jamison said...

The management culture of the Postal Service is badly broken. It is a top down autocratic model that operates on fear and paranoia. It treats the average employee as if they are stupid, lazy or dishonest - perhaps all three at the same time. Unfortunately that mindset too often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The culture is often based less on actually managing the operation in an efficient manner than it is on returning stellar numbers in response to the innumerable measures and metrics we operate under.
The effect is that we turn a simple task like removing mail from a collection box into a series of multiple verifications, checklists and simple-minded reviews. Consequently a measurement like EXFC becomes less about measuring the efficiency of the network and more about designing extraordinary means of returning high numbers.
Having said that, Congressman Issa is an ideologue who appears to have more interest in making suspect and sensational charges than in actually solving any problems. The roots of the direct mail industry and the modern conservative movement are closely related. Richard Viguerie, Karl Rove and others made their names and fortunes in direct mail. It is clear from some of the recent filings in the exigent rate case that parts of the mailing industry would like nothing more than a docile, subsidized postal system with cheap rates based on cheap labor.
Is the management model of the Postal Service broken? Clearly. Does Congressman Issa have an answer? Clearly not.

Anonymous said...

I JUST DID A CALCULATION MYSELF TO FIND OUT MYSELF AND WHEN I DID THE MATH . IT WAS 629576 WORKERS AND 82506 SUPERVISORS OR ABOVE AND THE RATIO IS 7.6. I HAD HEARD IT WAS 7 BUT NOW I BELIEVE IT. RICK FROM ALABAMA

Blecki said...

You realize that saying the management ratio is higher than '1 in 7' means there are MORE supervisors, right? 1 in 11 is a SMALLER number than 1 in 7; you should say the ratio is FAR, FAR SMALLER.

Anonymous said...

If you count the 204 wannabe's it brings the ratio down to 1 for every 6

George said...

Why shouldn't 204B's be counted as true supervisors? They aren't performing craft work (God forbid -- it would take time away from talking on the phone or looking at a computer monitor). If they aren't true supervisors, then do away with the position.

Anonymous said...

Congressman Issa was being too specific,fact is there are too many people on the payroll who do not touch the mail wich includes supervisors.Of the 75,000 people who dont touch the mail you could eliminate half of them for a 5 or 6 billion dollar savings.Instead Potter wants to eliminate a day of delivery. Why? So he can eliminate carrier jobs and keep the do nothing jobs. There is no reason this organization should be losing money. Congress should investigate and independently audit this place. Force potter to cut the fat or appoint someone who will.

Anonymous said...

Field offices use a formula called Supervisory Work Credits to determine the number of supervisory personnel domiciled in a Post Office. As a former Postmaster, I have never seen a level 20-24 Post Office which had the ratio of 1:6, or 1:7 supervisors to craft employees? In the district where my office was located, my SWC's allowed me three supervisors for 80 employees in the main office and one retail site. This ratio is replicated throughout the this district in every similarly populated office. Representative Issa has included Hdqtrs, Area and District staff in his calculation. These are support personnel who do not generally supervise large numbers of 'craft' employees. By far, the onus of supervision occurs at the Field Level and is born by a much smaller ratio of supervisors to craft employees. This puts the ratio closer to one supervisor to about every 20-30 'craft'employees. Supervisors at this level are generally responsible for a myriad of reporting requirements, timekeeping and customer response, in addition to managing daily workload to often-times unrealistic budgets that have little basis in reality, but exist to meet the expectations of those other managerial staff who work at the district, area and headquarters level.

PaleWriter said...

The most accurate means to show the ratio of workers vs leaders is a comparison of FLSA vs FLSA-exempt.

FLSA career employees = 552,099
FLSA temp employees = 88,954
FLSA employees total = 641,053

versus

FLSA-exempt employees = 71,029

ratio - 1:9

dryMAILman said...

Whoever came up with the bright idea to confiscate 1/3 of my mail sorting equipment is proof that there is at least one too many bureaucrats.

Anonymous said...

UPS has 1 for every 49 postmaster, get rid of the useless reports and work as hard as you expect carriers to work and you should match that.

Anonymous said...

I will never forget the time the POOM and one of her flunkies came to visit our office. It's about 125 miles from the district office to here.

The POOM goes around to each case checking us out. She stops at my case, looks around, and informs me that I have unauthorized items at my case. When I asked what she was referring to she points at a box of kleenex and a package of cough drops.

I informed her that I had just gotten over a cold. I then asked her how much money the USPS had spent to send her 125 miles to tell me that.

Do the math. At 50 cents a mile, that's $125 dollars, plus a per diem for 2 people, we're talking $150 to tell me that I couldn't have a box of tissues at my case. And you wonder why we're going broke.

Anonymous said...

In our small office this past friday we had more supv. than clerks working and one boss was making overtime pay ! We need to get a hold on all these managers needlessly working !

Anonymous said...

If you can't find them; Come to Shawnee Mission ,Ks. Where the government cars are loaded with egotistic bastards who wear ties and abuse mailmen like we're their slaves & criminals. Check out Indian Creek where they insult women and men for showing up. See the obese Postmaster who refuses rubber bands, tools for doing the delivery jobs, and causes more line supers into stress leave and retirement.
Everyones waiting for a EVENT, that will happen; And no one can find these supervisors.THEY'RE TOO
MANY IN KS!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

also in my district, they took managers making 70,000 to 80.000 and gave them jobs doing customer connect. sales jobs. car also. why not hire sales people for much less. why let supervisors at the high salary do this job

Anonymous said...

It's not just supervisors in my office alone we have a postmaster, an office manager , both morning and afternoon supervisors for each craft mind you, all collecting useless data. Yet we don't have enough subs to cover all the routes. In the real world there would be one or two management types and computers for the craft people to input their own information instead of being treated like 3 year olds.

Anonymous said...

Something to think about:
If a clerk or carrier calls in sick on a given day it will affect the flow of mail at some point.
If a postmaster or stupidvisor calls in sick on a given day guess what, it won't matter that you aren't there. I don't ever remembering someone calling to see if we can get help because our postmaster or stupidvisor wasn't there. Go Figure!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I know first hand that the PO has too many supervisors. You can't go by the numbers according to the PO. They have been fudging the numbers for years and not just as far as employment is concerned. Apart from supervisors and average employees, there is an insane number of "people who don't touch the mail". Such titles as Lobby Coordinater or Address Management. I could go on, but you get the picture. These people earn big bucks, and they play favorites. They have expensive brunch and dinner meetings. The list of their jaunts and perks is insane. I loved it when David Williams said the PO has "streamlined it's network by reducing over 130,000 employees by retirement or attrition. Guess what? These employees were limited duty employees injured on the job. The PO tossed them all out and now they are the problem of the OWCP. How does Potter sleep at night? Very well, I presume, on a huge pile of money.

Anonymous said...

204B's should definitely be counted as managers and not craft. Some of them supervise for years without reverting back to craft.

They are not just used as substitute supervisors.

They are used to exceed the authorized management compliment of an installation. They are used to cover for managers that abuse personal leave. And there are far more of them than management will admit because PS Form 1723 (assignment order) is rarely filled out.

dieselfitter said...

I have to agree with most of what the previous posters said. I have seen the USPS promote employees to 204B just because they rose their hand and said I want to supervise,(because I am lazy and don't want to work). Over the years those same 204B's became regular supervisors and found out THAT was too much work. They went out and found a job in an obscure setting, Inf. Systems, Route Adj, etc, where they did not even have to supervise employees. They found that was too MUCH work and then they found their way into District jobs and then into Headquarters in El Ephant Plaza. They never learned how mail flow works, they never read any of the USPS manuals on how to procede with anything related to mail, employees, contracts, etc. Now they are in headquarters making the rules and doling out incoherent orders and wanting BS reports, (ala Office Space) just to justify their existence. Hence 20 to 25 years later the Postals Service is about dead. We have over 18 EAS (managers) in my office and only have 220 employees, we could get by with 4 supervisors like we used to when we had 450 employees. Just the truth, mam'

Anonymous said...

"Some commenters wondered whether Issa was including 204Bs (substitute supervisors), but they can hardly be called true supervisors."

You are wrong again.....

.

Anonymous said...

Just look at any processing plant and you will see that there are way too many supervisors.The 204b's need to be done away with, just come look at the Fort Worth or Dallas installations.Both facilities are way short on mail handlers and the majority of the 204b's are from the mail handler craft. I say put them back in craft, save the L-17 money and alleviate a shortage at the same time

Anonymous said...

If you want to start an intelligent conversation about how (and why)to flatten the management structure of the Postal Service, go read "The Coming of the Ne Organization" by Peter F.Drucker in the January/February Harvard Business Review and start with that.

Anonymous said...

why don't we hire a VP to figure this out, give him a clipboard and a good salary, it could last 10 years

Anonymous said...

Apparently, no one here understands the meaning of Congressman Issas' statement. He's not trying to fix the postal service, his intention is to destroy the USPS. To make it ineffective, so there is a justification for privatization. Everyone posting on this blog has a vested interest in the survival of the USPS, Congressman Issa doesn't. You cannot take a professional liars' comments at face value. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

NOT ONLY DOES USPS HAVE FAR TOO MANY SUPERVISORS/204BS BUT NOW WE HAVE FAR TOO MANY UNION STEWARDS! (NOT SURPRISING IN LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT WHEN EXCESSING EMPLOYEES UNION STEWARDS ARE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE SUPER SENIORITY!)

Anonymous said...

THE USPS is not the only thing badly broken Congressman Issa! As a USPS employee, I wish I had the perks you get by being a Federal employee(for life)! I don't see you cutting your perks, but you want what little I got! BACK OFF! Hmm, want senior employees gone so you can hire cheap labor? Here are a few suggestion. GIVE me all the elements of my retirement now that I have over 25 years, not just part of it because I am FERS! Forget my age....and give it all to me for having been here 25 plus year, and I will be gone! Start looking at your perks and tell Americans what you GET so they can offer suggestions of how to reduce everyone's expense because as a Federal employee you get Better PERKS, BENEFITS, Payless towards them than any Federal employee! Congress seems to want to overlook what they at the tax payers expense! You excluded yourselves from rules you make for the rest of the tax payers and federal employees! Maybe you should stop USPS HQ and PECS, and EAS employees from gettting big bonuses, perks, excessive spending on themselves, and more.

Anonymous said...

Since, I work at the Palatine P&DC post office, I hate to agree with the congressman, but it's not just the quantity but the quality of our supervisors. At least 90% of them were the worst workers in the building. An example of one of our supervisors is someone who's been on light and limited duty for 20 years. When no work was available she was cured. Then immediately became a supervisor. She parks in the handicap parking spot, but has no problem walking around the building and even up and down the stairs. She lets her friends go out to the parking lot and drink for 6 to 8 hours per day. Then allows them to get on forklifts, and disrupt the whole unit with the drunken behavior. Then scapegoats the workers for
the problems. The 204b'B are never working when they're not on a higher level. When the plant manager is informed of all this behavior, he ignores the proof and protects his cronies. I have been with the USPS a long time and have seen it's effectiveness go down hill exponentially. Meritocracy and management no longer have any meaning at the USPS.